Monday, December 31, 2007
A wonderful Shabbat on Sa'ad שבת בסעד!
For the past three years (since I was on Pilgrimage in the summer of 2005), there have been many times when I was supposed to visit (or live on) kibbutz Sa'ad, and each time, something, either the security situation or other shabbat plans I had. While I thoroughly enjoyed my four months living on Kibbutz Ein Zurim and working on the communal Moshav Massuot Yitzhak, I still felt like something was missing not having lived on Sa'ad or at least visited there, since every Nativ for the first 25 years of the program had done so. Yael, our madricha had told me last year, that I will come back to Israel relatively soon, and that I will visit Sa'ad.
Well, she was right on both counts. When I knew I was coming to Israel, I immediately made plans to spend a shabbat on Sa'ad in order to to finally visit the place I had heard so much about, visit Yael and my fellow Nativer David Landau, who has made Aliyah and is now living on Sa'ad.
After walking around the shuk for a while and getting a shawarma on Friday, I headed over to the Tachana Mercazit (central bus station) and caught the #443, a once a day bus that travels directly by Sa'ad via Sderot. The ride took about an hour and a half, and was very pretty and relaxing, between the fact that the bus was relatively empty (unlike most egged rides I've taken) and that we got to pass by my old digs of En Zurim, Massuot Yitzhak and Negba. It was quite an interesting experience to drive through sderot, the town that has been the focus of Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. While it was hard to see too much from the bus, what I could see is that a small, beautiful community which was simply trying to make a life for itself and its children, has been uprooted from its normal routine and forced to wait at every second for the tzeva adom (red alert) siren to go off in warning of a kassam rocket.
A few minutes after leaving sderot, the bus let me off outside kibbutz Sa'ad, and I did immeaditely notice how I could easily see Gaza on the horizon, but I still felt safe being on Sa'ad, even having never been there before.
David met me at the gate (unlike En Zurim and Massuot Yitzhak, whose gates barely exist, Sa'ad has an operational fence and gate surrounding the kibbutz due to the proximity to Gaza), and we immediately went to say hello to Yael at her family's home and do a little catching up. Before shabbat, David borrowed a car and we went on a grand tour of Sa'ad's fields which seem to stretch on endlessly, at the end of which we even got to have have some clementines that hadn't been harvested.
We then went back to David's room to get ready for Shabbat, and soon departed for tefillot in the kibbutz synagogue, which reminded me of the one at En Zurim, except that Saad's was muxh larger (being a larger kibbutz), has a more liberal women's section (on the sides of the mens section instead of upstairs, and is slightly more beautiful. Tefillot were conducted in white I feel is typical kibbutz style, quickly but without sacrificing the feeling or the necessary singing of tefillot such as Yedid Nefesh, L'cha Dodi or Adon Olam.
After tefillot we attended a short shiur, and then went to the Shlomi family, who are David's adopted family on Kibbutz, for Shabbat dinner. (at this point I should mention that this weekend was a great opportunity to practice my Hebrew speaking. While my Hebrew comprehension is close to perfect, and my speaking is relatively good for an american, I realized that it could still use a decent amount of improvement). We had a very nice dinner with good food and good conversation. Ofer Shlomi comes from a yemenite family,which explains his meticulous Hebrew pronunciation, and he and his wife Tzafchi have 7 children and three granchildren, despite only being about my parents' age. After dinner, Yael came over for dessert, and all of us hung out and chatted for a while. David and I went to bed relatively early since i was still getting over jetlag, and I managed to wake up in time for Shacharit the next morning at 8:30.
Shacharit was pretty quick, just as on En Zurim, and tefillot were over by 10:15. After musaf, Ofer gave a fascinating shiur about the birth of Moshe, and we went back to the Shlomis following the shiur for kiddush. David, Yael and I ate lunch on Shabbat with another family that he had become close with, and had another great time. In typical kibbutz/Israeli style (although not everyone goes all the time), David and I ran across the walk to the Beit Knesset for mincha, and were back at the lunch table in about 15 minutes. In the afternoon we relaxed and hung out with some of the kids, while also getting to see the Kibbutz school and petting zoo. As Yael had told us last year, it was easy to see that the entire school had been covered with an extra overhang that the government provided to stop kassam rockets from hitting the schools. This step was very sad for the kibbutz as a constant reminder of the situation, but it was in the end necessary in case of an attack.
We relaxed for the rest of shabbat, and after maariv, David, Yael and I chilled at her house and in his room, and watched a movie. Later that night, David's roommate Eli returned from the army for the night, and I got to meet him and hear about his experiences in the paratroopers.
On Sunday morning, I decided to be crazy and wake up for a 6 am Shacharit, which was pretty well attended. Around 7, David and I walked over to the Chadar ochel, where I made a quick sandwich and ran out to the gate. Although I unfortunately missed the one bus per day which goes directly to Jerusalem, a taxi pulled up a little later and agreed to take me there for a reasonable rate.
Later that day, after dropping off my bags, I took a leisurely walk downtown, and strolled around ben yehuda, took a side trip to meah shearim, and had a late lunch at Pinati.